The Philadelphia 76ers certainly have good reason to feel down on themselves. They’re seeded 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 23-37 record with utterly no chance at making the playoffs and their big off season acquisition Andrew Bynum hasn’t played one minute all season and is highly unlikely to at any point in the season. Last season, the 76ers were one of the more exciting teams of the season, leading the Atlantic Division for about half the season thanks to their youth and good transition play. A year ago, the basketball gods seemed to be smiling down on the City of Brotherly Love, but now it they seem to be playing a cruel joke on this young team.
In the offseason, the 76ers took a gamble on Andrew Bynum at the expense of giving up their all-star swingman Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets in the same trade that sent Dwight Howard from the Magic to the Lakers. While the Magic were viewed as the big losers of that trade, it now seems to be the 76ers who may end up being the losers, especially since Andrew Bynum hits unrestricted free agency in the summer time. The 76ers were fully aware of Bynum’s injury prone knees, but they did not expect him to end up missing the whole season as a result.
The real problem with Andrew Bynum not playing at all during the season is they have no idea what kind of team they have if at full strength. Many people at the time of the trade felt like Andrew Bynum instantly placed the 76ers in the discussion of the winning the NBA championship or at the very least in the same discussion as the Knicks and Pacers, who are clearly the best teams in the East behind the Heat. But with Bynum not playing at all, all that talk of the 76ers being “for real” is still just speculation, and even worse, they may never find out how good they could be with Bynum should Bynum choose to leave Philadelphia for greener pastures in the summer.
The 76ers are at a crossroads right now. They got a lot of young talent and an all-star point guard in Jrue Holiday who should be able to lead their team for the next decade. What to build around that talent is the question. Do they want to take another gamble on Andrew Bynum and re-sign him in the summer? Do they want to let him go and go after maybe Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap in the summer? These are tough questions to answer, but they are questions that will inevitably be answered in the very near future. The future doesn’t look totally dim for this franchise like I said. They have plenty of young players to be excited about, but what they decide to do this summer with Andrew Bynum and in free agency will have a huge impact on the state of this franchise going forward. They better choose wisely.
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